Identity Crisis : The Game was a final project for a course called Beyond Bits and Atoms. Essentially we had to design a learning tool/technology based on the constructionist theories we had been practicing all quarter long. My project partner and I knew we wanted to make a game about purpose and learning identity. So we ran an initial test with some fellow grad students in which we assigned them new identities to embody for a weekend. We gave them challenges that could earn them arbitrary points. But really we wanted to see what they would record about their self-identified learnings in a weekend learning journal. As John Dewey posited, we don't learn by experience. We learn by reflecting on experience.
The experiment went so well that we decided to expand the game and make it a more official experience. We created heaps of possible identities and expanded the challenges to encompass an entire week of gameplay. We then identified a game master who would administer the game to his group of friends. We gave him a manilla folder with about 20 different identities that he could then assign to each of his 5 friends. After a great deal of deliberation, the game master delivered the identities, accompanying challenges, and an instruction sheet to each of the players. A group message was created and the identity crises began.
The response was wildly interesting. Some players certainly got more out of the experience than others. We learned that a week was too long, but that an increased number of challenges and points possible were good things. Mostly, we learned that identity plays a huge role on learning. This is reflected in the literature we used as rationale for the game, but it was exciting to see it taking shape in something we had designed.